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"I gave my word."—Arn
Arn: The Knight Templar is a series of books by Swedish author Jan Guillou, also known as The Crusades Trilogy, and a film (or two, in Scandinavia; it was condensed to one international release) telling the story of a young man who finds himself as one of The Knights Templar as penance after falling in love with and bedding Cecilia, and conceiving a child out of wedlock. From his beginnings as a child monk being trained in the sword to befriending Saladin, we get a snapshot of his entire life. While much of the film takes place during The Crusades, it also takes much time out to elaborate on Arn's past and Cecilia's current penance as well as the sociopolitical climate in the kingdom that one day will be Sweden.
The book series consists of the following:
- The Road to Jerusalem
- The Templar Knight
- Birth of the Kingdom
There was also a sequel, The Heritage After Arn, about a fictionalized version of real historical person Birger Jarl, which has not yet been translated.
The books were a huge success with Swedish audiences, spawning walking tours of historical sites as well as television documentaries and a renewed interest in medieval history.
This film has received a mixed reception, earning a 6.4 on IMDB at the time of writing.
The books contain examples of:
- Arranged Marriage: Due to the setting, there's a whole slew of these; Arn and Cecilia's betrothal is a variation, although they're actually in love and are punished for becoming impatient and sleeping together before their wedding. There is also the later issue of Arn, once having returned home from Palestine, almost being married off to Sverker maiden Ingrid Ylva, when he'd rather marry Cecilia like he was supposed to all along. In the end, it's arranged for their son Magnus to marry Ingrid Ylva instead, and he has no objection.
- Another: Knut and Blanka, who are quite content with their arrangement.
- Combat by Champion: Arn defeats Sverker champion Emund Ulvbane this way.
- Combat Pragmatist: Arn himself.
- Complete Monster: Richard the Lionheart, of all people, is depicted as this. He lies, cheats, and seems to genuinely enjoy the carnage of the Crusades. He even opts to slaughter the entire population of a city rather than accept the enormous ransom he originally demanded.
- Cool Horse: All the Arabian horses compared to the Nordic coldbloods, but especially Kamsiin.
- Cool Sword: Arn's sword was given to him by Brother Guilbert who was never defeated while wielding it. He is told never to raise it in anger or use it for personal benefit.
- Death by Childbirth: Narrowly averted; Mother Rikissa starves the pregnant Cecilia Rosa and has her working in the fields throughout her pregnancy until her labor starts.
- Finish Him!: Young Arn is told to end the duel with Emund Ulvbane in this manner. He refuses to kill an already defeated enemy.
- Friendly Enemy: Arn and Saladin; they've saved each others' lives, like and respect each other, and have many opinions about the future of Palestine in common. However, they're also determined to defeat the other on the battlefield because it is God's Will.
- High Priest: The Church is a major power both among the Templars and in Sweden, so there are multiple examples of this trope, including several Archbishops and Popes.
- Horse Archer: Arn is one, leading to his reputation among the Saracens. Also, obviously, the Turcopoles.
- The Knights Templar, obviously.
- Master Swordsman: Most of the Knights Templar, but Arn and Brother Guilbert (and later Arn's students) are the ones most remarked upon by other characters.
- One Steve Limit: Averted and played with; Cecilia Algotsdotter and Cecilia Ulfsdotter are lay sisters as the same time, and are told apart by nicknaming them after their hair colors; red-haired Cecilia Rosa and blonde Cecilia Blanka. They keep these nicknames for the rest of their lives.
- Also a few instances of combinations of aversion of it and and Dead Guy, Junior; Arn and Cecilia Rosa's son is named Magnus, although Old Sir Magnus is not yet dead when he's born, and there's the case of a number of kings named Knut and Erik.
- The Patriarch: Birger Brosa
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Arn and Eskil, as adults. Arn is a devoted warrior and a man of God, Eskil is a cunning merchant with a fondness for swearing, food and beer. Despite this, they get along very well.
- Also, to a certain extent, Cecilia Rosa and Katarina; Cecilia is romantic, devoted and faithful, while Katarina is opportunistic, conniving and hedonistic.
- Sword Fight
- Shout-Out: At one point, Arn is made to joust against an inexperienced young knight of Richard Lionheart's called Wilfred of Ivanhoe
- True Companions: Cecilia Rosa and Cecilia Blanka
The film also contains examples of:
- Action Prologue
- Arranged Marriage: Cecilia violates her arranged marriage to a Sverker warrior with Arn, driving her into penance as a lay sister and causing Arn to become a Templar.
- Audible Sharpness
- Diagonal Cut as a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- Do Not Go Gentle
- Finish Him!: Arn quickly establishes himself as a hero by refusing.
- Improbable Use of a Weapon: Arn doesn't have a dominant hand, so he regularly switches between right-handedness and left-handedness to throw his adversaries off guard.
- Master Swordsman: Arn and his teacher.
- One-Hit Kill: Arn is quite good at them.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Arn and Saladin have shades of this whenever they hang out.
- Redshirt Army: The Knights Templar
- Single-Stroke Battle
- Sword Plant